Are inclusion and TAs more hindrance than help for pupils with SEN?
I am a primary school support teacher for a London borough, so I was interested to read your article "#163;5bn spent on SEN fails to boost results, says top official" (October 16). I teach in two schools and I have a dyslexia specialist diploma. The schools buy into our service and can use it as they like.
One of the schools makes good use of my specialism. I assess children for dyslexia, teach pupils with specific learning difficulties, advise teachers, learning support assistants and parents, and help the school achieve a Dyslexia Friendly quality mark.
The other school employs me mainly to help Year 6 pupils move from level 3 to level 4 in their reading and writing.
Sometimes the second school does ask me to teach a pupil with specific learning difficulties. But nearer the time of Sats, those sessions are cancelled so I can be switched to preparing a group of Year 6 pupils for Sats. One year, the special educational needs co-ordinator told me that it was better I spent the time on the level 3 pupils as the children with SEN were "no hopers".
And what happened when Ofsted visited the more SEN-friendly school? The inspectors made no reference to its inclusion of special needs pupils at all. Nowadays the pressure on schools from inspectors and local authorities is simply to increase the Sats results.
I also find it very worrying that the most vulnerable children are taught by learning support assistants (LSAs). I was in a position to observe an LSA teach phonics, and found that she was "doing" phonics, but no real teaching. She also taught some incorrect sounds.
LSAs are not teachers. They should only teach under close frequent supervision.
Primary School Support Teacher, Name and address supplied, London.